North Carolina State
Fans noted that the scarlet block “S” on the white NC State helmets had been reduced in size to two-inches and then detected a silver lining within the rather drab 5-5 record of 1964. Improbably, Edwards’ crew turned an inconsistent offense, a shaky defense, and that 5-5 record into an ACC Championship by going 5-2 within the conference. As it was in ’63, the power was in the line with All ACC performers Bennett Williams at guard, Glen Sasser at tackle, and Ray Barlow at end. Bill Gentry was a good two-way back while Tony Golmont focused on the defensive duties and against Alabama, the great Joe Namath suffered the first of his serious knee injuries sparring with the aggressive Wolfpack defense. Only a poor 1-4 start kept NC State from the ’65 ACC title as they finished at 6-4. The defense was the shining light, giving up twenty-seven points in five consecutive victories with All Conference safety Golmont coming up with seven INT’s. His seven added to the team’s great total of twenty-three, some coming as DT Dennis Byrd and DE Pete Sokalsky rushed opposing QB’s to the tune of All ACC selection. Charley Noggle was in charge of the offense and rushed for 485 yards while throwing for another 533 in a run-oriented offense. His back-up, Jim Donnan lettered as a punter. All Conference HB Shelby Mansfield ran well enough behind guard John Stec that they both made the All ACC team.
With the available talent and the number of players named to the All ACC team at the end of the 1966 season, even some of Edwards’ supporters were wondering why the record wasn’t better than the 5-5 that again began with a sluggish start. New Carter Stadium, named after supporters Harry and W.J. Carter, the textile magnates who were ardent State supporters and grads, was drawing 40,000-plus fans, a far cry from the antiquated 19,000 seat confines of Riddick Stadium that had previously forced the Wolfpack to play as many as seven games each year on the road. The offense was at its best in eleven years with QB’s Noggle and Donnan, who was also a tennis star sharing the helm. HB’s Don DeArment and Gary Rowe both ran behind guard John Stec and tackle Bill Gentry with all four named to the All Conference team, Stec for the second time. DT Dennis Byrd had a career game against Al Woodall and Duke, sacking the Blue Devil QB twelve times in an All American season. LB Dave Everett and DB Art McMahon were the other All ACC picks and safety Fred Combs should have been. Edwards announced his plans to retire to the administration but noting how vast the potential was for the ’67 squad, he decided to return.
Edwards was right and his 1967 squad was one of the surprise teams in the nation, posting its best season in forty years. The 9-2 record also included a 14-7 Liberty Bowl victory over a good Georgia team. Before tough late season losses to Penn State and Clemson, the Pack was ranked as high as number three in the nation with QB Jim Donnan, the future Marshall and Georgia head coach, tossing to All ACC receiver Harry Martell a deadly combo. OG Norm Cates was another All Conference star and kicker Gerald Warren was ranked the best in the country, but the strength of the team was on the defense. The unit painted their shoes with white polish, to give themselves some distinction. Led by two-time All American DT Byrd, the overall play was so good that DB Fred Combs’ All American nod was almost overlooked. The “sarcastic replies” of Wake Forest, that wore gold shoes, and Clemson who came out in orange shoes, were met with increased vocal support from the Pack faithful and harder play by the insulted Pack. Vocal tough guy LB Chuck Amato came back in 2000 to be the Wolfpack head coach after a sterling career as Bobby Bowden’s Florida State assistant and DE Mark Capuano, 5’8”, 230-pound NG Terry Brookshire, and DT Ron Carpenter were at times, unstoppable. The “White Shoes Gang” defense gave up a paltry eighty-seven points in their eleven game season.
SPOTLIGHT ON DENNIS BYRD:
At 6’4” and 260 pounds, Dennis Byrd was a
three-time All ACC and two-time consensus All American choice. His first
team All American selections in 1966 and ’67 marked the first time a
Wolfpack player had earned that singular honor and he was feared due to his
agile charges along the line of scrimmage. The Lincolnton, N.C. High School
star was an immediate soph starter at defensive tackle and one of the
leaders of State’s “White Shoes Defense” of 1967. He was so difficult to
contain that Florida State captain Bill Carr noted that “By the end of the
game, everybody in our line was calling him ‘Mr. Byrd’”. Sack records
weren’t kept at the time but the agreement among NC State football followers
was that Byrd far exceeded the total of anyone else who had played for them.
A number-one draft choice of the Boston Patriots and a rookie starter,
Byrd’s pro career lasted but two seasons. A late-season injury his senior
year against Duke not only knocked him off the field and virtually ended his
career despite his attempts to play in State’s last two games of the season
and with the Patriots, it no doubt caused NC State to lose its bid for the
1967 National Championship as the team dropped the final two games of the
season in Byrd’s absence. Life after football for Byrd included seeing his
number 77 jersey retired by NC State and a successful career as a high
school teacher and football coach in North Carolina.
If interested in any of these NCS helmets please click on the
If interested in any of these NCS helmets please click on the photos below.